Mahler: Symphony No. 1 in D (Titan)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

WORKS: Symphony No. 1 in D (Titan)
PERFORMER: Royal Stockholm PO/Sakari Oramo


The restless intelligence of Sakari Oramo is responsible for both the electrifying and the less edifying aspects of this stand-alone Mahler One. Unquestionably he brings sounds and textures to our ears I’ve heard from no one else: once I’d got over the feeling that there was some outside intrusion going on, I liked the second-violin whoops as the wayfarer’s happy country tramp gets under way in the first movement. The vibratoed village-band trumpets are excellent in the funeral procession, and all the little dewy interjections at the dawn of time make their mark. 

But perhaps some of the gestures over-project. There’s little of the misty and mysterious once the woodwind chip into the opening, or the canon solos weave their web around the ‘frère Jacques’ tune of the third movement. I found what ought to be the increasingly soulful, inward trio sections of the middle movements relentlessly prodded by fantastical detail; and in the first movement there’s one far too precipitate a speeding up before the development hurtles to an admittedly explosive climax. The impression’s of an impetuous adolescent – not entirely inappropriate for Mahler’s sweet song of youth – rather than a master of musical philosophy such as the effortless but never passionless Abbado offers in the last Lucerne DVD release. 


The Stockholm musicians play very well for Oramo, with horns full and throaty when required and plenty of incisiveness in the finale’s turbulent marching. But there’s also a slight hollowing-out of the sound which may be either the orchestra’s or the venue’s fault. An insightful venture, all the same. David Nice